When looking for that perfect new-to-me dress, bag or hat I have a carefully-planned route which takes me on a journey through the Northern Quarter’s vast array of charity shops and vintage stores.
From the Piccadilly Garden end I venture up Oldham Street and take in the sights of both Oxfam charity shops, Pop Boutique and Blue Rinse, among others, before meandering onto Dale Street to check out Junk.
And now I’ve a new charity shop to add to my go-to list of places to rummage.
Nestled on the corner of Oak Street, next to the Manchester Craft & Design Centre, is a new gem of a boutique-style RSPCA charity shop.
In-keeping with the chic atmosphere that the Northern Quarter is famed for shop manager Stephanie Thornton decided to take a different approach to this branch.
With floor-to-ceiling windows that allows light to flood in, the store boasts rails of colour co-ordinated vintage and designer goodies to tempt the senses.
“It seemed too good an opportunity to just do a regular charity shop layout, so being here in the Northern Quarter we decided to go for a boutique style that would fit in with the area,” she said.
“You wouldn’t believe the quality of donations we get here in this branch, some designer, some brand new still with the tags on.
“Although we are a boutique store we are able to offer customers designer and vintage clothing at charity shop prices.”
The design and layout was a labour of love for Stephanie and her husband, who sourced and upcycled the mid-century dressers and display cabinets that are now adorned with vintage tea sets, jewellery and books.
She explained: “We spent three days sanding and waxing one dresser to get it just right, but it was worth it and I’m really happy with the end result.”
Stephanie and her group of nine volunteers are delighted to have found a home in such an iconic area of Manchester.
“We’re thrilled to have such a gorgeous shop here in the Northern Quarter!
“It’s such an exciting opportunity and we want to let people know that we’re here, and look forward to welcoming many new customers through our door.”
Since opening its doors last month the shop has started to slowly build a loyal shopping base, with a faithful few returning on a regular basis.
But as Stephanie revealed to me, it may not just be due to the quality of the stock but a four-legged volunteer who has won the hearts of many Manchester animal-lovers.
She revealed: “Sally is our shop dog. She’s 12 years old, can hardly see, has diabetes and has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but all the staff and especially the customers love her!”
So having been introduced to the team and watched Sally scoff her way through several treats, it was finally time for me to be let loose on the shop and see what they had to offer.
My top five vintage picks
(1) Stephanie promised designer finds at charity shop prices and she certainly delivered with this exquisite Gina Bacconi monochrome jacket.
Originally priced at an eye-watering £220, it was reduced in a sale to a ‘mere’ £69.
Still pretty steep in my mind, but reduced still further to a reasonable £19.99.
Perfect for evening wear.
(2) Next up is this lovely electric blue shift dress with a black trim, priced at just £9.99.
Worn with either a killer pair of heels or flat boots, this would make a cracking addition to any wardrobe.
(3) This apparently-unworn hot pink Wallis jacket caught my eye immediately due to its structured shape, bold colour and over-sized buttons.
This statement jacket would work well for both work and play, looking great over a smart dress or flung over a top and jeans.
At £15.99 it would certainly work hard in any capsule wardrobe.
(4) Spring fashions nearly always feature florals whether it’s small, ditzy prints or large statement flowers.
This lovely hand-made ¾ length dress would do a sterling job representing this trend, and at £12.99 wouldn’t break the bank.
(5) Last but not least is this gorgeous 80s-style Clockhouse dress.
This 50s-style dress comes with boning and a tulle underskirt to ensure the proportions of the dress and that it stays put.
Giddier than a child in a sweet shop at finding it was my size, I went behind the dressing screen and tried it on.
In a perfect Cinderella-type moment the dress fitted like a glove, it looked great and was bagged-up and paid for the second it left my back. And at £10.99 I certainly wasn’t complaining.
The new store is located at 13-15 Oak Street, and is open from Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm and on Saturday 10am to 5.30pm.
For more information about the Manchester and Salford Branch of the RSPCA visit http://www.manchesterandsalfordrspca.org.uk/shop_locations.html
You can find an extensive range of vintage posts at Mancunian Vintage.
Make sure you check out Mancunian Vintage’s Facebook and Twitter page: @manc_vintage
Pictures courtesy of Mancunian Vintage, with thanks